What are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes play a key role in breaking down the food you eat. These proteins speed up chemical reactions that turn nutrients into substances that your digestive tract can absorb.
Your saliva has digestive enzymes in it. Some of your organs, including your pancreas, gallbladder, and liver, also release them. Cells on the surface of your intestines store them, too.
Different types of enzymes target different nutrients:
Digestive enzyme supplements are designed to top up your body’s natural digestive enzymes and support your gut health. Not everyone needs this extra help, but you might if you aren’t producing enough enzymes – this can slow down the digestive process, leading to uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating and indigestion.
Causes of digestive enzyme deficiency may include:
- too little or too much exercise
- a poor diet – for example too little protein, too many calories or eating too many refined carbohydrates
- medical conditions, such as gall stones or diabetes
In addition, digestive enzyme supplements may be helpful for a number of conditions, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – For example, since 1 out of every 3 people with IBS also has problems digesting specific foods, it is possible that taking digestive enzyme supplements known to help the body digest these foods might reduce symptoms of IBS.
- Lactose intolerance – people with this condition don’t make enough of the digestive enzyme lactase to break down lactose.
Always speak to your doctor or a registered nutritionist before taking digestive enzymes if you have any medical conditions.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your doctor before trying any remedies.